When I was growing up, ice cream was a non-negotiable in my family’s food pyramid. My paternal grandfather would not have dreamed of letting an evening pass without a bowl of Blue Bell (not “ice cream,” mind you, “Blue Bell”), and my dad and I had our own post-dinner ritual, which involved one of us trying to cajole the other to get up from his or her La-Z-Boy and commence the arduous task of liberating the hard-packed stuff from the carton. “You dippin’?” he’d holler hopefully if I made even the slightest move. So what a revelation it was to later discover the soft, creamy smoothness of homemade ice cream, the same kind that was a regular treat when my mom was a kid; she remembers when churning up a batch of the frosty stuff was an every-weekend occasion and the little ones would sit on top of the towel-covered cranking mechanism to keep it steady.
There’s no shortage of premium ice creams out there now, but as with many things, nothing beats homemade. Like smoking meat and boiling crawfish, making ice cream, particularly when it involves a half hour of old-fashioned physical exertion, is a festive event, a way to celebrate the bounty of the season (peaches!) and bring your favorite people together.
Makes 1 quart
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely chopped fresh peaches, peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half over medium-high heat, stirring often, until it gets bubbly around the sides. Turn heat to low and gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, stirring till dissolved. Add the eggs and heat, whisking constantly (mixture should register no more than 170 degrees on a candy thermometer). Transfer the mixture to a bowl (preferably with a spout) and stir in the cream, vanilla, and salt. Cover and put in the refrigerator; chill for at least 3 hours (and preferably overnight).
Meanwhile, combine the peaches, remaining sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
When you’re ready to make the ice cream, strain the juice from the peaches and add to the cream mixture (set peaches aside). Freeze according to your maker’s instructions. When the ice cream is almost finished (about 25 minutes in a hand-crank machine), add in the peaches and continue freezing till done.